“Patchwork is a loudhailer for the voices of underrepresented groups right across our islands and their Parliamentary Awards recognise the endeavours of individual MPs across the parties who are making efforts to get people from all walks of life engaged in politics.”
Suhaib is an International Relations student at Middlesex University. He is interested in how geopolitics, especially of China and the Middle East, plays a part in influencing global politics. He is currently a member of the TFL Youth Panel, contributing to making policies to make transport in London inclusive and sustainable. Suhaib also enjoys volunteering currently; he volunteers at the London Transport Museum.
In September, I had the opportunity to attend the Diffenthal Debate skills session. With the upcoming AI summit (at the time of the debate), the topic of discussion was interesting and relevant. The debated question was: ‘Should the Government ever intervene to restrict technological innovation?‘ Patchworkers were split between two teams, arguing for and against the statement. The evening ended with a networking session, which gave me and the rest of the participants a chance to speak with various employees from Hogan Lovells and get to know the nitty-gritty of starting a career in policy and law.
A tribute to Richard:
The debate had a sentimental aspect as well. It was a tribute to Richard Diffenthal who was one of the pioneers in setting up the Patchwork Foundation. He was a lawyer at Hogan Lovells who strongly advocated for social mobility. Following his passing, the Patchwork Foundation continues to honour his memory and legacy to support present and future Patchworkers. We were lucky enough to be joined by Richard’s family at the debate.
Calming the nerves:
I was in high school the last time I participated in a debate, so being nervous was normal! But the Hogan Lovell’s team helped calm my nerves by helping me draft the points for the debate and sharpen the participants’ rough ideas. The preparatory workshop provided an excellent platform for mutual learning, as each participant shared their drafted points for the debate. Engaging in discussions on the topic and receiving assistance from the team greatly aided me in formulating comprehensive arguments and debating effectively.
Presenting my points in front of many people gave me the confidence to communicate effectively. The core of my argument was rooted in the belief that entrusting a select few individuals with the authority to determine what is beneficial or detrimental to society is not conducive to a fair and inclusive technological landscape. Instead, I asserted that the responsibility for overseeing technology’s impact should rest with society itself, as its members are the primary stakeholders in the realm of technology consumption. I also looked forward to hearing the other team’s views on the topic and expanding my knowledge on the question. There were some impressive points presented by the opponents that gave the audience a broader framework to understand the issue surrounding the regulation of technology.
Preparation is the key:
One of the most imperative points I learnt from the debate is that researching the topic is the key to excelling and communicating your point of view. There is no better way to prepare for the debate! Research gives you the ability to understand the topic in a much better way and gives you the chance to articulate your point. For the debate, I read various articles that revolved around how red tape imposed by the bureaucracy plays a role in decelerating innovation in technology. Along with articles, I discussed with my professor at the university. The conversation with my professor focused on how governments globally are grappling with regulatory measures to mitigate the adverse effects of advancing technologies like AI. The consensus was that, despite efforts to proactively regulate technology, governments will inevitably lag behind the rapid pace at which these technologies are being developed. By utilising various sources, it gave me the ability to understand the context of the topic.
The government needs to act fast:
A recurring theme in the debate was the pace at which the government formulates regulations, coupled with the challenge of swiftly evolving technologies that emerge shortly after new rules are established. Undoubtedly, the way the government functions needs to change so that regulations are drafted promptly.
In retrospect, the entire experience was a fantastic blend of learning and collaboration, underscoring the significance of open discussions on the intersection of technology and governance. The event highlighted two crucial insights: firstly, governments must operate at an accelerated pace to effectively regulate emerging technologies. Secondly, the regulation of technology is not a clear-cut matter; rather, it exists in shades of grey, demanding thoughtful consideration from stakeholders.
~ Suhaib Shaukat, 2023 Masterclass Programme Participant
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